Dubai’s Celebrity Chef on Experimental Vegan Cuisine – News
Almost 10 years ago, Akshay Nayyar arrived in Dubai with his eyes full of dreams. Now, at 32, Akshay is a celebrity chef, TV host and entrepreneur whose passion has led him to deliver delicious works of culinary art.
Besides running restaurants in India and being the face of the Middle East’s biggest reality TV show Foodshala, Akshay also had the honor of serving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates.
Shortly after Akshay visited the UAE, his success earned him another accolade – UAE’s most promising leader by chambers of commerce and the Indian government – at the India-UAE World Summit. 2016.
While Akshay specializes in modern Indian, Italian, Mexican and many other cuisines, his latest project was to elevate vegan food. It’s no surprise that countless people are turning to veganism because of the healthy lifestyle it promotes.
Akshay, whose formula is to explore the first recipes, has collaborated with the Epitome restaurant in Dubai to provide a chef’s table experience. Akshay has exclusively curated a chef’s table menu that includes starters, main courses, desserts, and handcrafted cocktails and mocktails.
We talk to Akshay about his stance on veganism and how serving a global audience in Dubai has helped advance his career.
A lot of people are going veg now; What do you think drives people towards veganism?
There are two aspects to this: fashion and health. Some choose to be vegans because it is a trend all over the world, with many celebrities endorsing it as a new diet. Others do it for better health and a better lifestyle. Choosing to be vegan is a great opportunity to learn about food nutrition, understand your ingredients like never before, and try new recipes. For me, it’s about improving your diet, your lifestyle and your eating pleasures.
Getting your nutrients from plant sources allows for more room in your diet and healthier options like whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which are packed with fiber, beneficial vitamins, and minerals. Eating well while being vegan and knowing all about your food is the golden rule.
As a famous chef, how do you plan to give a personal touch to veganism?
I always believe in creating recipes and dishes that don’t exist or have never been experienced before. It is my primary responsibility to the industry and to my guests who always look forward to trying exclusive specialties. Increasing the vegan options with my menus that include dishes like vegan shrimp and turmeric and sultana creamy gives me satisfaction and makes my vegan diners happy.
How have social networks impacted your life as a chef?
Being a cook is my passion and being discovered as a “chef” is my choice. Over the past decade, digital platforms have given me the opportunity to reach a wider audience and serve guests from all over the world. Compare the 90s to the 2000s and we will realize the Herculean power of this digital transformation of the F&B industry.
As a highly regarded chef in the region, how have you dealt with the pandemic?
My dad says ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, my child… See, heaven has a plan for you.’
The most important thing that worked for me was “time for me”. Planning what to do and what to leave has helped me prepare for a better future. Money can’t save you time and I have used that time well. I am lucky to have a beautiful family with whom I could spend quality time.
Thinking about your career, would you have done anything differently?
I think back to each passing day of my life each day. I learn like I’m still a cooking student, it boosts me to beat my own goals every day.
As Dubai is a major tourist destination, describe the experience of serving a global audience.
This is exactly the beauty of this city; it is a dynamic and versatile mix of gourmet diners from all over the world. The people of Dubai are much more open to trying a variety of cuisines and they appreciate the changing culinary world.
Describe a memorable moment in your career.
I remember twice serving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was greeted by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, as well as other ministers. I had planned a pure vegetarian seven-course sit-down meal on both occasions. What an experience!
How has Dubai helped you in your career?
I was a 22 year old boy who came here with eyes full of dreams and Dubai welcomed me with open arms, appreciated what I wanted to do and made me who I am today. After hosting a decade of culinary shows with 10 seasons on the air Foodshala, I can proudly say that Chef Akshay without Dubai is just Akshay.
As a chef, how do you see Expo 2020 currently being held in Dubai?
I’m excited to be a part of this as I see Expo 2020 bringing 10 times more value to the F&B industry. And, with the recent Epitome launch in Dubai, I promise to make that change.